I remember, as a five-year-old white boy, asking my dad what all the commotion in the news was about the day Martin Luther King Jr. was killed. When he told me that it was a greater American tragedy than the assassination of President Kennedy only a few years earlier, I listened and learned.
As a child, I saw archival footage on television from the civil rights movement, of police officers siccing attack dogs and pelting peaceful Black protesters with walls of water from firehoses. And I listened and learned.
As a young man, I saw the portrait of rage and despair in the face of a police murder of a Black man in Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing.” And I listened and learned.
In the early days of Newcity, Los Angeles police officers were caught on videotape brutally beating a defenseless Rodney King, a crime so obvious, so caught-in-the-act that the injustice of their acquittal of the crime lit Los Angeles on fire. At that time, we invited Chicago writers and poets to react to what was happening. And I listened and learned.
And since the advent of mobile phone cameras, SO MANY MORE. And I kept listening and learning, over and over and over.
So when George Floyd was lynched by the police and America raised its collective fist in days of rage afterwards, listening simply is not enough anymore. We’ve had enough time to learn. It’s time to do something.
As Scoop Jackson eloquently puts it in his lead essay in this issue, it’s time for us, white people, all of us, to change. Scoop’s been one of the strongest voices on issues around racial justice in Newcity for more than twenty years, dating back to a seminal cover story he wrote for us in 1999 that laid out the racial dynamics of the dismantling of the Bulls dynasty. That piece went on to win a Lisagor Award for Exemplary Journalism. Since then, every piece he has done for us brings his singular and provocative perspective.
Scoop is one of twelve writers, poets and artists who contributed to this issue’s special feature, selected from a submission pool of several dozen more. Everyone featured herein is a person of color, offering a perspective that we need now more than ever. We need writers, poets and artists more than ever right now, to give voice to the rage. To the despair. To keep us on the path toward revolution, reparation, redemption, resolution.
On our cover, you’ll see the amazing Toronzo Cannon sitting on the ledge outside of Chicago’s legendary Jazz Showcase. It’s our first photo shoot since March and was done within the shadow of COVID-19. Thus, no spontaneous group shots, as sessions were spaced out and masks and hand sanitizer abounded. But we’re pleased with the way it all turned out, and want to thank Wayne Segal for letting us do our work inside the club his father started back in the 1940s. It was pretty special to “perform” under those massive portraits of Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington and John Coltrane.
Look for Newcity’s July 2020 print edition at over 1000 Chicago-area locations this week or subscribe to the print edition at Newcityshop.com.
In this issue: